Focus – War on Terror: Morocco’s police dismantled 9 terrorist cells and arrested 186 extremists during the year 2017

The Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) known as “Morocco’s FBI” dismantled in 2017 nine terrorist structures, neutralised 186 suspected terrorists and arrested 20 returnees, persons who came back home from areas of conflict, including Syria and Iraq.

The BCIJ said that these figures “provide “evidence, if needed”, of the centrality of BCIJ in the fight against terrorism.

These facts, confirmed by the total absence of attempts to rally the ranks of Daesh, bring the number of cells dismantled by the Central Bureau, since its creation in 2015, to 49 structures that projected devastating actions in the Kingdom, divided between 21 cells in 2015, 19 in 2016 and 9 in 2017, it added.

The results of the fight against terrorism in Morocco, notably in 2017, is a Moroccan success story commended by Mr. Abdelhak Khiame, Director of BCIJ.

“Above all, the number of cells dismantled in 2017 must be compared to the beginning of the BCIJ. (…). This reminder shows that there is a decline in the dismantling of terrorist cells, “said Khiame, in an exclusive interview to MAP.

“Regarding the persons arrested in these dismantlements, since 2015, they have been 739 individuals (275 in 2015, 276 in 2016 and 186 in 2017),” he added.

BCIJ’s director explained that of these 49 cells dismantled, 5 are related to the so-called “Al Faye Wa Listihlal” principle, while the other 44 are related to the self-proclaimed terrorist organisation “Islamic State”.

It is clear. The decline of dismantled terrorist cells has only one explanation, according to Khiame, who explained it by the proactive fight being conducted by BCIJ elements against the devastating projects as part of the Kingdom’s multidimensional approach.
This fight has dealt an almost fatal blow to the presence of Daesh and other nebulas on Moroccan territory and their hateful plans, he said.

However, the BCIJ remains vigilant towards individuals who have returned to Morocco from the ranks of terrorist groups. From 2015 to 2017, the BCIJ arrested 92 returnees. Among the 20 people arrested in 2017, 19 had come from the Syrian-Iraqi conflict zone and one from Libya.

“On this point, the approach adopted by the BCIJ is part of the general policy of the Kingdom which has already put in place a law that penalises the attempt to rally or the effective rallying a zone of tension”, said Khiame.

Evoking rallying attempt, the security official said that no similar case was recorded in 2017, adding that three persons, who tried to join the ranks of Daesh, had been arrested between 2015 and 2016.

The lack of regional cooperation, a real danger
The persons who have left the areas of conflicts to seek refuge in other countries in the region pose a serious problem. In this regard, Khiame assures that he does not have accurate information due to “lack of regional cooperation”.

“These are mainly people fleeing the Syrian-Iraqi zone to deploy in other areas of conflict. Daesh has been implanted in a destabilised country, namely Libya, or in the Sahel region as a whole, where several terrorist organisations are already operating, notably the so-called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Thus, to get an idea about all these people, there must be cooperation with the countries of this area, “said the director of BCIJ who is in full knowledge of the facts.

The neighbouring country of the east, in this case Algeria, hostage of an obsolete vision of regional hegemony, affirmed Khiame, is the first concerned by this “niet” and this categorical refusal to cooperate in the face of a phenomenon that transcends borders.

“We have, unfortunately, a neighbour who stubbornly refuses to cooperate, despite the threat that menaces all the Maghreb countries. We can not have precise information on the terrorists who are active in the region without establishing solid regional cooperation, “regrets Khiame.

Morocco, global Sherpa

The stubbornness of Algiers is as dangerous as it is incomprehensible since it is at the antipodes of an international craze, more and more growing, for the model and the Moroccan experience in the matter.

“The Moroccan experience has become a model for all the countries of the world.

Moreover, the Kingdom has always said it is ready to cooperate with the states that want it, including Mauritania, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt in addition to the Gulf countries and Western countries of which the United States, ” Khiame recalled.

Cooperation is vital in the sense that it allows both Morocco and these countries, according to the director of BCIJ, “to update the databases about all those who are active in terrorist field”.
This international craze for the Moroccan experience is explained, according to the director of the BCIJ, by the multidimensional approach against terrorism, unique in its genre, adopted by the Kingdom.

“Morocco has understood the phenomenon well and is constantly trying to rectify its approach according to changes. In addition, the Moroccan strategy (…) is not based solely on security tools. The Kingdom has adopted an approach that also includes the religious field with the training of imams, in addition to the social aspect and the action of civil society such as the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) “, Khiame added.

Crime, the other facet of the action of BCIJ

The fight against organised crime is the other facet, and not the least, of the action of BCIJ. The Organised Crime Brigade was able to arrest 43 people in the past year and seize consistent amounts of hard drugs and Hashish. Examples abound: seizure of two tons and 588 Kg of cocaine and 105 Kg of Hashish, neutralisation of a gang specialised in kidnapping and ransom demand, in addition to the resolved case concerning the murder of MP Abdellatif Merdas, just to mention a few.

“Since the creation of the BCIJ, the anti-crime brigade has dismantled several networks that are active in the area of drug trafficking, homicide, kidnapping and other crimes,” said Khiame.

Regarding the arrests, the elements of this brigade neutralised 74 people in 2015 and 61 others in 2016, mostly involved in the international narcotics trafficking, which led to the seizure of 41.5 tons of Hashish and 35,777 psychotropic pills in 2015, as well as 8.5 tons of Hashish and 1.230 ton of cocaine in 2016, he went on to say.

The action of this brigade also allowed to seize some 34.7 million dirhams and more than 858.000 euros from narcotics trafficking.

Further more, the cooperation of the BCIJ with the International Police Organisation (Interpol) in 2016 allowed the arrest, on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the Italian authorities, of an Italian national who was at the head of a criminal gang specialised in international hard drug trafficking, Khiame concluded.

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